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Good afternoon! Welcome to this Special Edition of First 5 LA's Week In Review covering the top news of the week related to early childhood development and COVID-19.

Late last week, Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti announced new resources to support hospital staff who are struggling to find child care, including a $100 subsidy per shift and child care at five Los Angeles Parks and Recreation centers near hospitals for kids 6-to-14 years old. The efforts are supported by the Mayor’s Fund For Los Angeles.

It's Black Maternal Health Week, and advocates are reminding us that pregnant Black women need support now more than ever. The coronavirus has disproportionately impacted the the Black community, creating additional stress during an already anxious time.


This and more in today's Special Edition of the Week In Review.

Editor’s Note: We want acknowledge the overwhelming news coverage on the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic, which has extended today's Week in Review past our usual length. To help readers navigate, we've included a linked Table of Contents below. We also encourage you to visit
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for the latest information. First 5 LA has also developed a COVID-19 Alerts and Resources page which we encourage you to check out. As always, our goal is to share with you the latest news and views on early childhood development.
COVID-19 Special Edition #5 Table of Contents

Impact on Child Care and School Closures

Care for Essential Workers: Last Friday Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a new initiative -- funded by the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles --  to support all hospital workers in need of child care, as televised by CBS Los Angeles. The city has partnered with hospitals across L.A. County to provide three options for hospital workers to ensure that they never have to miss a shift due to lack of child care options. As reported by LAist, the three options include:

  1. A $100 stipend per shift for workers to offset the cost of child care, including by paying a relative or friend to watch the kids.
  2. Free referrals to center-based and home child care through an L.A. County hotline, 888-92CHILD (922-4453), and website, and third-party services WeeCare and CarinaCare.
  3. Child care at five Los Angeles Parks and Recreation centers near hospitals for kids 6-to-14 years old, starting Monday, April 13 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This news comes alongside Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement to allocate $100 million in emergency funding to child care, including $50 million to ensure the essential workers have access to child care and can access it regardless of income. While these policy changes may make it easier for essential workers to find child care, many are still opting to either take their child to work or leave them with a neighbor out of fear that day care may expose their family to the virus, reports CAPRadio. However, the new state directive from health and human resources offers guidance for licensed day care centers that is meant to mitigate the risk and encourage essential workers to utilize these services.

Child Care in The Bay Area: Kidango –– a large child care and preschool provider in the Bay Area –– closed its doors in mid-March, but has since reopened 10 centers in response to county governments, First 5 Santa Clara and large health care providers requesting childcare for essential health care workers, as reported by New America. Operations look different than they did before the pandemic, however, with new precautions such as limited and stable group sizes of 10, extra sanitizing measures and physical distancing in place as a way of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Two of the centers are located within hospitals, and the others are close by to provide easy access for the hospital workers. Additionally, Kidango has started paying their workers an extra $20 of hazard pay on top of their regular pay –– a move the Kidango CEO felt was necessary in acknowledging the risk and value the workers were putting into providing day care. Kidango is still receiving funding from the state and Head Start, but the funding is much more flexible now due to emergency waivers. Providing emotional support to kids and families has also become a priority for Kidango, as teachers who have since switched to working at home have been operating support lines for staff and families to help connect them with basic resources.

Reopening in the Fall: Governor Gavin Newsom says that conversations to reopen schools in the fall,  with physical distancing in place, are underway, reports Politico. While Newsom’s comments may serve as an optimistic sign, school officials –– many of whom are still scrambling to provide tele-learning and internet connection to families –– view it as a potentially new pandemic-driven problem that will be difficult to implement. The model of “physically distanced learning” will most likely vary from district to district, depending on a school’s space and resources. Daniel C. Humphrey, a member of the Local Control Funding Formula Research Collaborative at Policy Analysis for California Education argues in a commentary for EdSource that policymakers should take advantage of this disruption to redesign key components of California’s system of support for schools. Humphrey argues that this is an opportunity to reevaluate how schools receive support and possibly implement a more holistic system without the use of the previous indicators which left glaring holes in how support was delivered. “Trying to put Band-Aids on the existing system is certainly not going to result in better outcomes than those California achieved before the pandemic,” Humphrey writes. “As the coronavirus crisis unfolds, policymakers need to take advantage of the disruption to redesign the existing structures, like the system of support, to respond to daunting needs of California’s education system.”

Pregnant Women and Newborns  

Black Maternal Health and COVID-19: It’s Black Maternal Health Week, and doctors and activists are emphasizing how the coronavirus pandemic is piling on to an already stressful situation for pregnant Black women, reports Refinery 29. Maternal mortality in the U.S. is the highest in the developed world, and for black women it’s 3-4 times worse, which is largely attributed to the impact of racism on black women’s bodies and implicit bias on the part of medical professionals. “Part of the fear and part of the reason why advocacy feels so important to me is because I can’t tell whether or not people are taking me seriously. I can’t even tell if my doctor is taking me seriously,” said Sophia Williams Kapten, a 35-year-old Brooklyn-based woman who is due in late April. Kapten was relieved when Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted the ban on anyone but the mother and medical staff in the birthing room, but is concerned that without her extended network there something could go wrong. The coronavirus has hit the Black community disproportionately hard, and while there is no evidence that pregnant women are more susceptible to the illness, there is concern that pregnant Black women will be impacted.
 
Black women have found that doulas can help with the stress of birth, as they understanding what to expect and can advocate for them during the birth process. But with many hospitals limiting pregnant women to just one support person in the delivery room, moms-to-be are finding themselves especially anxious. Vogue Magazine captured the dilemma in their article title, “
Should I Choose My Doula Over My Partner? Navigating Birth Support in the Era of COVID-19,” where one mother shared, “My husband and I, neither of us know what to expect. That one day could be very traumatic.” In an interview for SELF Magazine, Porchia-Albert, founder of New York City-based Ancient Song Doula Services explained how they are helping their clients prepare amid the evolving changes during the pandemic: “A lot of it is connecting clients to health resources and having conversations about the policies that are happening currently that could affect folks who are birthing, then adapting to those protocols.” Doulas are finding helpful workarounds however, with many encouraging their clients to bring them into the delivery room virtually, reports The New York Times Magazine.
 
Additionally, Essence Magazine published several articles and guest pieces this week about Black Maternal Health, one of which was penned by Senator Kamala Harris:
Related articles:

Talking to Kids and Family Mental Health

An Experiment in Progress: The coronavirus pandemic is a “drastic experiment in progress,” says The Hechinger Report about the impact social isolation will have on kids’ long term psychology and behavior. While history has lent itself to research about the impact separating kids from parents during times of war can have on attachment and bonding, little is known about the effects of separating children from their peers and adults from adult support networks. Some research around kids who didn’t go to daycare suggests that lack of peer interaction can negatively impact social skills, but it's unclear whether these effects would take place after only a few months of isolation. Additionally, isolation could hit parents particularly hard by depleting their emotional resources that are typically restored while kids are watched by teachers or day cares, which could then have an impact on kids’ emotional regulation and coping skills.

To help reduce stress during quarantine,
The Center for Health Journalism spoke with child mental health experts and shared a few key takeaways: Talk to your children about what’s going on, but keep it simple –– the pandemic shouldn’t be the number one thing on your child’s mind, says one mental health expert. Parents should also keep in mind that kids are like sponges, meaning they should take extra care to preserve their own mental health so as to not have an impact on their kids. Lastly, one expert encourages families to see the silver lining: “Social distancing has made us closer,” he said. “There is a sense of families coming together.”

Kids, Babies and Transmission

Pediatricians and Telehealth: Across the United States, pediatric practices are struggling to adapt and survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic with crashing revenues, a shortage of protective gear and terrified parents, as reported by The Washington Post. Pediatric offices often provide relief for the healthcare system by treating broken bones, colds and flus, lacerations and other illnesses that might otherwise overwhelm emergency care. In accordance with guidelines issued by the AAP, however, most well-child visits for children over 18 months old have been cancelled as a preventative measure for avoiding the spread of the virus. And some parents with babies as young as a week old are canceling appointments, which one doctor points out, can be more detrimental to a baby’s health than the virus itself. This has led to a steep decline in revenues for small, independent practices, which may result in permanent closures. While some pediatricians are adopting telehealth, there are concerns around the overprescription of antibiotics over the phone without lab results. Furthermore, pediatric offices typically do not keep a stock of protective gear, which has made pediatricians vulnerable to the virus, particularly because kids often do not show symptoms.

Intervention Online: In additional to reduced pediatric visits, many counties have fully halted intervention services for infants and toddlers up to age 3, as well as special education programs and therapies for kids who have aged out of intervention treatment, reports Early Childhood Journalist Jackie Mader for The Hechinger Report. As a result, many schools, therapists and families are increasingly turning to online and digital sources for these early therapies –– which can be a lifeline for many parents but can only go “so far” in replicating the types of intricate services performed by a specialized therapist. Still, parents are worried that their child with disabilities will regress in progress due to the lack of in-person support during this important time in their brain development. Furthermore, many obstacles still exist within telehealth, such as getting a child to focus on a screen, restrictive regulations surrounding telehealth in certain states and burdens on parents who are juggling work and personal priorities or who have limited access to technology. Specialized telehealth treatment still does more good than harm, however, as it is teaching parents how to deliver services performed by therapists, making them stronger parent-coaches.

Related article: The New York Times: This Is Schooling Now for 200,000 N.Y.C. Children in Special Education

Additional Resources

Black Maternal Health Week: Our friends at Black Infants and Families Los Angeles have held a full week of programming to celebrate Black Maternal Heath Week. All available through Facebook Live, activities have included "CommuniTEA with Coach V," with long-time black maternal health activist Wenonah Valentine, "Family Circle with Auntie Lo," panel discussions and more. Click here to view and share the Facebook Live recordings, and click here for more details on the week's activities! There is still time to participate so be sure to sign up! 

Online Learning: Early childhood advocacy organization Child 360 has launched an online learning platform for early childhood educators interested in becoming an expert in areas "most important to you as an educator." This is a full-service platform is designed to help educators connect with each other and continue their education. Click here for more information about this valuable resource. 

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It, Non COVID-19 Stories

Having a Baby While Black: NATAL Is the Podcast Pregnant Black Parents Have Been Waiting For
The Root
 

The US has the highest maternal death rate of any developed nation. California is trying to do something about that
The Mercury News


Overweight at 4? Beware of Broken Bones
The New York Times
 

How to Deal With Your Kid’s Annoying Habits
The New York Times
 

As family structures change in U.S., a growing share of Americans say it makes no difference
Pew Research Fact Tank
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